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Strike action starts at University of the Highlands and Islands students warned

By Alan Shields

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UHI Campus. Picture: James Mackenzie.
UHI Campus. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Strike action is likely to disrupt classes, Highland students are being warned.

UHI put a statement on social media about the action by teachers today (April 20).

The teaching staff involved are from the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) trade union.

It comes amid an ongoing pay dispute from lecturers across the country.

UHI said on Twitter: “It is likely some classes will be disrupted by strike action by teaching staff who are members of the trade union, EIS-FELA. Our priority is to our students, and we will do all we can to minimise the disruption caused.

“You should attend your class as normal, remote or face-to-face. If your class is affected, we would encourage you to continue with self-directed study,where possible. Please check your student email for further information. Your course leader may be in touch with you via email.

“If you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to speak to your PDA/PAT or email studentsupport.ic@uhi.ac.uk.”

The disruption is the latest in a long running saga.

EIS-FELA say that there have been “protracted negotiations” regarding pay, that began with the submission of their updated claim in June 2021.

Over the course of negotiations, EIS-FELA have reduced their claim from a £2000 flat-rated award to £1300, in an effort to find compromise and avoid further industrial unrest.

Despite calls from EIS-FELA negotiators to settle the issue of pay early and a rejection, by the EIS-FELA membership, of the original ‘final’ offer of £850, flat rated, with an £150, one off, ‘thank you payment', the management side of the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC), failed to bring an offer that members said would be "acceptable".

EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan, said: “An EIS survey, conducted in late 2021, found that over half of the lecturers who responded had experienced higher workloads and higher levels of stress during the pandemic.

“Concerningly, a similar number of respondents reported that they had received no wellbeing check in from their employers.

“Despite this, college lecturers have continued to deliver high quality teaching and learning to the students they serve.

“Since the advent of national bargaining in further education, there has been only one occasion in which a pay award has been made without EIS-FELA members having to resort to industrial action, pay awards have not been the result of benevolent management.

“Statements comparing the terms and conditions of college lecturers in Scotland with those elsewhere in the UK ignore the fact that these conditions of service, including pay, have been hard won through EIS-FELA members taking collective action, which has been repeatedly opposed by senior management and their representatives.”

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